Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption Promo Video

temp2

Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption now has a promo page on bjupress.com. If you haven’t yet purchased a copy, you will want to do so now that there is a promo page. Bryan Smith, the presenter on the video there, is the one whose vision I was trying to live out in the book. His theological mentoring made a major impact on me during my nine years at BJU Press. He knows his Bible extremely well and works to apply it across all the academic disciplines with a depth and rigor I’ve never seen in anyone else I know personally.

screencapture-www-bjupress-com-highlight-worldview-1447994189539

Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption

Cover Image

I finally got my copy. It’s the culmination of my nine years at BJU Press and the one book of mine most likely to actually get read: Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption, a 12th grade Bible textbook for Christian and home schools. But I can’t say the book is “mine,” exactly. For the record (mine as much as yours), here are the chapters, along with a summary and an indication of whether I wrote them or not.

If you like my blog, you’ll like this book. There’s more than an echo of my blog concerns (faithful readers might even recognize a few blog posts; I checked with myself and granted myself permission to use them). I encourage you to buy a copy even if you aren’t a student.

WORLDVIEW

1 Worldviews – Mark Ward
  • Introduces the concept of worldview using the primary metaphor of lenses.
  • Defines worldview as 1) a head-heart system that 2) tells a master story and 3) produces the group action we call culture.
  • Shows briefly how the Creation, Fall, Redemption story of Scripture constitutes the “big story” of the Christian worldview
2 Presuppositions – Mark Ward
  • Discusses the role of evidence and presuppositions in the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Argues that truth is ultimately taken on authority.
3 The Two-Story View – Mark Ward
  • Critiques the secular view in which the lower story of facts is cut off from the upper story of human values.
  • Argues that a biblical view of Redemption precludes the two-story view.

CREATION

4 God the Creator – Mark Ward
  • Bases creation firmly in the intra-trinitarian love of God, a la Edwards.
  • Argues that God’s glory is His ultimate goal in all He does.
  • Analyzes major alternatives to biblical theism (materialism, pantheism, dualism, deism)
5 Man and His Mandate – Mark Ward
  • Explores the meaning and implications of the image of God in man.
  • Explores the meaning and implications of the Creation Mandate of Gen. 1:26–28.
  • Demonstrates that culture flows from the Creation Blessing of Gen. 1:26–28.
6 Everything God Made Was Very Good – Mark Ward
  • Examines ways in which the fall is pinned unfairly on elements of God’s good creation instead of on human religious mutiny.
  • Describes the “creational norms” God built into our universe.

FALL

7 Far as the Curse Is Found – Mark Ward
  • Details the personal, cultural, and cosmic effects of the fall.
8 Common Grace, the World, and You – Mark Ward
  • Explains the biblical doctrine of common grace.
  • Contrasts worldliness and asceticism, proposing that believers are properly seen as pilgrims and ambassadors.
  • Argues that affection drives cognition.
9 Structure and Direction – Mark Ward
  • Introduces the concepts of structure and direction.
  • Explains the structure of sexuality and the evil and good directions in which it is pointed.

REDEMPTION

10 An Everlasting Kingdom – Bryan Smith
  • Provides an overview of the entire storyline of the Bible, structured by the biblical covenants and culminating in the restoration of God’s good creation.
11 Redeemed for Good Works – Bryan Smith and Mark Ward
  • Urges lives of good works and witness in the gap between the already and the not yet.
  • Critiques theonomy/Christian Reconstructionism.
12 The Mission of the Church and Your Vocation – Brian Collins
  • Explains the mission of the church in this age.
  • Explores the biblical doctrine of vocation.

MARRIAGE, GENDER ROLES & FAMILY

13 The Man and the Woman in Creation – Mark Ward (based on research by Greg Stiekes)
  • Lays out God’s revealed design for marriage and gender roles.
  • Discusses the role played by the nuclear family in the biblical narrative.
  • Discusses gender roles in society.
14 Marriage Twisted – Mark Ward (based on research by Greg Stiekes)
  • Exposes the ways marriage, gender, and sexuality are twisted in this fallen world.
  • Views the “Gay Christian” movement through the lenses of a biblical worldview.
  • Discusses the topics of cohabitation and divorce.
15 Marriage Redeemed – Greg Stiekes
  • Lays out a vision for redeemed marriages, families, and gender roles.

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

16 Foundations of Government – Brian Collins
  • Roots government in God’s design as opposed to a social contract.
  • Argues that justice is the foundational reason for government to exist in a created (not just a fallen) world.
  • Explores different types of governmental structure.
17 Political Perspectives – Brian Collins
  • Exposes the idols underlying various political ideologies, including liberalism, socialism, and conservatism.
18 The End of Government – Brian Collins
  • Explores the various major models of church-state relations from the perspective of a biblical worldview.
  • Offers counsel for Christians to act prudently in politics.

SCIENCE

19 Science Is Something God Created Humans to Do – Mark Ward
  • Shows how the assumptions that make science possible are rooted in a biblical worldview.
  • Outlines two major purposes for science: love of God, love of neighbor.
  • Enumerates creational norms for the practice of science.
20 Fallen Science – Mark Ward
  • Explores the ways science is frustrated by the fall.
  • Offers an epistemological critique of scientific naturalism.
  • Offers a moral critique of scientific naturalism.
21 Reading Genesis and Doing Science – Mark Ward
  • Explores the way various worldviews interpret Genesis 1–3.
  • Argues for a view of Genesis 1–3 that is consistent with Jesus and Paul.
  • Profiles conservative Christians active in the sciences.
  • Urges students to do science themselves.

HISTORY

22 Foundations for History – Brian Collins
  • Provides Christian reasons for doing the work of history.
  • Lays out creational norms for history.
23 Fallen History – Brian Collins
  • Critiques various nationalistic and postmodern historiographies.
24 History in Light of Redemption – Brian Collins
  • Discusses the use of source materials and gives guidance on the construction of historical models and the discernment of providence.

ARTS & CULTURE

25 Truth, Goodness, and Beauty – Brian Collins and Mark Ward
  • Explores the interplay of truth, goodness, and beauty in culture.
  • Offers concrete examples of truth, goodness, and beauty in art, literature, and music.
26 The False, the Bad, and the Ugly – Mark Ward
  • Provides examples of cultural artifacts which idolize truth, goodness, or beauty.
  • Provides examples of cultural artifacts which attack truth, goodness, or beauty.
  • Explores the way culture, particularly pop culture, shapes human sensibilities.
27 Creative Cultivators – Mark Ward
  • Shows how condemning, critiquing, consuming, and copying are wrong as postures but good as gestures when it comes to responding to human culture.
  • Urges students to be creative cultivators.

That final unit got a ton of help from the best aesthetician I know, Zach Franzen. But as lead author and general editor, I was responsible for the final form and style of the entire text and added a lot of the illustrations and other connective tissue. In other words, this book was a team effort like no other I’ve ever worked on. And that, for me, was a wonderful experience for which I thank the Lord.

Mike Asire, my designer, read just about every word of the text and did a great job designing the book and all the pages and graphics in it. I was slightly skeptical of his choice of Futura for headers and pull-quotes, but I trusted him and I’m glad I did. I think his work looks fantastic.

Chris Koelle contributed fantastic illustrations for the unit openers. Eventually you’ll be able to order some of them at his site for the walls of your own home. I plan to, partly out of gratitude to him.

There were many others who contributed significantly to this book, like the editor and the project manager who would be embarrassed to be named. On such an obscure blog.

A final word about the content: there are many angles, even in Scripture, from which any of the topics covered in this book could be viewed. But I found worldview—application of the entire storyline of Scripture—to be a very fruitful lens through which to view everything from homosexuality to language to music to gender roles to government.

And a final word about the team: this book is really the fruit of the work of Dr. Bryan Smith, the longtime Bible Integration coordinator at BJU Press. It was my goal to fill out his vision in my writing. His combination of exegetical rigor and theological synthesis is unmatched in my experience. He is a gift to the church and a mentor to me, as is my best friend Brian Collins who, you will see, also contributed to this book.

What a privilege it was to work on this project. Gushing done. Buy now.

Who Wrote the Formula?

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.32.00 AM

So one member of a lesbian couple decides she needs a man, and her partner agrees to bring one into the relationship. ABC News has the story. They are now polyamorists, the parents of two babies, and crusaders in the cause of getting their sexual choices and family setup validated by the broader community. One of the women in the “throuple” (this appears to be the default preferred spelling for this neologism, according to Google stats) claims the mantle of anti-racism:

We’re just trying to be the pioneers, like in the civil rights movement. (2:55)

The Commenters

I always find it interesting to survey the comments on a piece like this. I find that people aren’t illogical, exactly: they reason straight from their moral premises.

BillyBobJohnson’s moral premise is that coercion is bad:

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.47.06 AM

Waterwench’s moral standards are 1) self-fullfilment is good and 2) inequality is bad:

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.44.33 AM

Pdiddy Dduh and jenny have a straight-up utilitarian ethic:

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.45.21 AM

One person offered what I take to be a just-the-facts, secularist perspective.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.44.58 AMBut then again, this commenter presumes that those 12% of men who lose the battle for mates shouldn’t have to. What about the possible retardation of evolutionary progress if we let those men’s genes into the pool? A high number of single guys is only bad if your value system says it is.

Justifying Moral Premises

Comments on an article like this on a mainstream site are a pretty good barometer of where our country is with regard to moral philosophy. And it’s a little much to expect people in a setting like this to work on justifying their moral premises. But then no one ever seems to get around to that work… It’s all just assumed—believed.

So I like the “who are we to…?” questions, because they raise the issue of moral legitimation:

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.45.13 AM

One of the women in the throuple, in fact, asked what has to be the key question in the discussion over the morality of their sexual arrangement:

Who wrote the formula “one man, one woman, and their two-and-a-half kids”? (2:50)

Who indeed. Who—not what—defines the norm for human sexual relationships? And who says we have to tie sex to the bearing of children? If we leave it to Internet commenters, we have a profusion of moral standards, some used to condemn and others to condone the throuple. And if we leave it to moral philosophers, we have that same profusion. What gives any human the right to tell any other human that his or her sexual desires are wrong?

This is one of those rare times when I have to call in Richard Dawkins for his wisdom:

It is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones.

God defines what marriage is, and we discover what it is as He reveals it in Scripture and in creation. God is the only person standing above the fray of human disagreements over what constitutes the good life. He’s the only one who has the authority to tell us what marriage is.

A lot of American Christians seem to me to be looking for a neutral, secularism-friendly way to hold onto the marital moral order we had a few minutes ago. They don’t want to be as gauche as Crusader Ron :E:

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 10.02.52 AM

I do think Crusader Ron :E could have been more discreet, but if any non-Christian people are out there asking the key question—”Who sez?!”—it is our duty to answer. We have to use the G-word in the public square.

Ross Douthat on Past Conservative Predictions

Read the whole thing, but if you want a little help getting to the good parts, feel free to use my highlights.

The basic thesis is this:

If you look at the post-1960s trend data—whether it’s on family structure and social capital, fertility and marriage rates, patterns of sexual behavior and their links to flourishing relationships, or just big-picture trends in marital contentment and personal happiness more generally—the basic social conservative analysis has turned out to have more predictive power than my rigorously empirical liberal friends are inclined to admit.

Read the whole thing (with my highlights).

The Most Important Thing You’ll Read Today Beyond Holy Writ

I may be at risk of becoming the boy who cried “Read This,” but this point from Mark Bauerlein about debating homosexuality in the public square is so, so important:

Religious conservatives demand religious liberty, while liberals, progressives, and libertarians demand that discrimination stop. In this set-up, which the media blast daily, conservatives don’t defend their beliefs. They only defend their right to exercise those beliefs. The charge of bigotry stands.

Obviously, the set-up favors one side. The latter party has a positive principle: treat everyone the same. Conservatives have only a negative principle: leave me alone.

What, then, is the affirmative stance for religious conservatives?

It is the affirmation of religious liberty, yes. It is also the affirmation of religious doctrine. And that means asserting very clearly that some souls in the world are caught in troubled, disordered desires, and that if we accept those desires we allow disorder in family and society, and we act contrary to God’s will.

If more and more religious leaders simply cannot assert that some dispositions are unnatural and ungodly, then religious liberty proponents will always be on the defensive, steadily losing ground as the years pass.

Read the whole thing. You’re already 80% done.

Two thoughts:

  1. This is yet another reason why offering secular arguments against homosexuality is counterproductive. The most we’re allowed to do in the public square right now is point to (debatable) statistics about the effects of homosexuality on the quality of children’s lives. I care about those arguments, and there is important work being done on those issues. But no one is fooled when evangelicals say, “Hey, I’m just pointing to the scientific research!” They just add underhandedness to the charge of bigotry. The time has come for witness: the most important, and ultimately the only, argument we have against homosexuality is, “God said no.”
  2. I’m not sure Bauerlein meant to do this, but his positive affirmation of religious doctrine still ended up being negative. That is easily rectified; we don’t need to stop with “God said no.” We can and should offer the flip side: God knows best how to give you pleasure, including sexual pleasure. Sex was His idea. The sexual revolution—the bloodiest ever, with its millions of dead babies—is not a revolution so much as a revolt against God’s idea. I will carry fire next to my chest and burn myself if I so choose (Prov. 6:27)! I will bring myself to utter ruin in the midst of the assembled congregation (Prov. 5:14)! I will go to hell (1 Cor 6:9–10). God sometimes prescribes sticks for such people, the people we all were at heart, at birth. But sometimes He prescribes carrots. So stable, happy, solid marriages are one of the most important Christian apologetics. They lay out a prize that anyone can see and that lost people can seek. May God give me grace to do my part.